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Author Topic: small butterfly  (Read 9496 times)
olivetree
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small butterfly
« on: June 06, 2008, 21:34:17 PM »

Hi gardeners, I've noticed, over the past couple of weeks, a number of small brown butterflies which I'm pretty sure have not been around before... any idea what they are?
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MG
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Re: small butterfly
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2008, 20:07:53 PM »

May be the latest unwelcome introduction, the Geranium Bronze from South Africa.

http://www.defra.gov.uk/planth/pestnote/geranium.htm

Watch out for your geraniums!!

MG
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olivetree
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Re: small butterfly
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2008, 20:49:33 PM »

Thanks for info... Yes it's certainly them.  Time to reach for insecticide....
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Jetset
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Re: small butterfly
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2008, 16:26:32 PM »

My whole garden is infested with this butterfly.  The Geraniums do not seem to be doing badly though.  Is their cause for concern? 

Should I use insecticide on them as was suggested on the Times online?
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olivetree
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Re: small butterfly
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2008, 22:53:21 PM »

I have seen some damage on my stella maris... blackened areas on the green young stems which are hollow or rotten inside which means that the larvae have found their way in... my geraniums seem intact at the moment but I certainly wouldn't rest at ease....
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il-Mann
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Re: small butterfly
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2008, 13:12:31 PM »

Hi all, I've just come across an interesting presentation by one David Mallia which inculudes a section on the African Geranium Bronze Butterfly (Cacyreus Marshalli) -

http://www.planthealth.gov.mt/Downloads/seminars/seminar_10_june/new_pests_and_diseases.pdf

DEFRA in the UK also have an article at the following website and state that the insect is listed as a Category A2 quarantine pest by the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO).
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il-Mann
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Re: small butterfly
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2008, 13:34:02 PM »

The DEFRA website is as follows:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/planth/pestnote/geranium.htm

My Geraniums have been all but destroyed by this pest. Symptoms include leaces with transparent sections, stems with visible (blackened) holes in them, shrivelling and drying of stems which also become brittle, yellowing of leaves, halting of the flowering process and stems which are totally hollow and dead. The larvea of the butterfly, apart from consuming sections of the leaves, burrow into the trunk or stem of the plant by making a visible hole which generally has blackened edges. They then proceed to consume the pith, protoxylem, xylem and phloem (inner stem tissue), leaving only the Sclerenchyma, Cortex and Epidermis (outer stem structure) blackened on the inside and full of back granular material which probably consists of their droppings. Similar small black grains can also be found interspersed on the leaves. The larve (or caterpillars) are generally 10mm in length and can be light green, light brown or off-white with a pink stripe along the back. They can be extremly hard to detect because of their small size and colouring, especially if the plant has dense foliage. Moreover, if the larvae is actually inside the trunk of the stem the only indication of their presence is the black holes on the stem. I am informed that there appears to be an infestation of these pests around the Balzan area and definitely most of the Geraniums in my neighbourhood seem to be afflicted. Once a plant is severly afflicted, the only option, unfortunately is to cut afflicted stems which have been hollowed out, below the lowermost point where hollowing has occurred, removal of any larvae and treating the unafflicted part of the plant with an appropriate insecticide is crucial if any part of the plant is to be saved. If, as in my case, the infestation is so severe that most of the plant is destroyed, perhaps cuttings can be taken from unafflicted parts of the plant that are above the affected areas but I would obtain a botanist's advice on this.
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MG
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Re: small butterfly
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2008, 13:44:19 PM »

Very interesting contribution. Yes it seems that this butterfly as may be expected is now present in all areas and furthermore in considerable numbers. I do not think that there is any reasonable hope of controlling it, only protection of individual plants may be possible.

It is still to be seen whether the damage caused will eventually lead to the death of the plants, in which case we can strike off Geraniums from the list of viable Maltese garden plants!

MG
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il-Mann
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Re: small butterfly
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2008, 15:17:49 PM »

Hmm, given that Geraniums (Pelargonium Zonale) was until recently, the plant of choice for soft landscaping in several prominent public areas, I wonder whether the emergence of this pest is related to the sudden removal of all the Geraniums some areas . . . Was this merely a scheduled change of flora or was there more to the story? Coincidentally, the said change occurred shortly after the letter in 'the Times' of June 5th regarding the Bronze Butterfly. Before I am misunderstood (and possibly sued), far be it from me to point any fingers at anyone but if anybody knew of the problem and it's potential catastrophic effects or noticed some abnormality, it would have been far better if adequate publicity was given as in the case of the Red Pine Weevil, then perhaps, several plants which have been destroyed or are in the process of being ruined, might have been saved through timely action.
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MG
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Re: small butterfly
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2008, 01:06:54 AM »

I think that the removal was seasonal, the bedding plants are considered "disposable" once the main display is over.

Personally I do not think that this butterfly is in any way controllable to the extent that one may possibly aspire to keep numbers in check or maybe exterminate completely as could be the case with the RPW, ok, subject to a concerted long term effort.

However my concerns are that the authorities take a laid back attitude on the issue of importation of aliens. There are too many vested interests in maintaining the importation of vast numbers of plants and trees, especially for landscaping, from all over the world and it is close to impossible to ensure that each and every specimen is pest and disease free.

Considering the possibilities, we have not had it so bad up to now. Just imagine if some pest that devastates Aleppo pines, for example, had to be introduced.

But the RPW and this butterfly are just a foreboding of what may happen, and at this rate who knows. Maybe some good will come out of it and the authorities wake up from their slumber.

MG
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Avocado
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Re: small butterfly
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2008, 15:17:05 PM »

Saw butterfly near Ivy leaf pelargonium - stella maris!!!
I think it's still around and no - we hardly ever learn  Cry
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MG
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Re: small butterfly
« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2008, 10:17:06 AM »

'Still around" is an understatement. I think that we have never had a commoner butterfly. It's all over the place in large numbers.

Because we do not have a truly cold winter, very likely there will be no let up year round.

MG
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il-Mann
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Re: small butterfly
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2008, 20:07:49 PM »

I can confirm that the Bronze Butterfly (Cacyreus Marshalli) is around once again after a few months absence. Perhaps the heat of the summer was not suitable for it to thrive since during that time, my Pelargoniums (those that survived the last infestation) had recovered a little. After several months of observing the growth of yellow and white leaves from my severely depleted plants, I was finally happy to observe the emergence of proper green foliage. This week, however, I was dismayed to observe no less than five larvae crawling around on one of my plants. Closer observation revealed the usual symptoms, partially eaten leaves, small black droppings on several leaves and the larvae themselves. I doused the plants with an appropriate plant insecticide which is indicated for caterpillars and am now hoping for the best.
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il-Mann
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Re: small butterfly
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2008, 20:12:58 PM »

Incidentally . . . has the Department of Agriculture even bothered to rouse itself from its perpetual slumber and acknowledge the presence of this imported non-native pest on our shores?? For all the fuss and hype about the red palm weevil recently, they seem to be oblivious to several other problems . . . the cause of which is undoubtedly the haphazard and totally unmonitored importation of plants from abroad.

Is the red palm weevil more romantic or something or are these people just totally out of touch with reality?? (!)
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MG
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Re: small butterfly
« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2008, 10:32:24 AM »

Don't know about "romantic" re the RPW, but if in such terms, it seems the love affair has died down together with the ever increasing number of very mature palm trees dying all over the place, latest new observances being Naxxar, Mosta and the surrounding areas.

And the appropriate action is never taken, resulting in the spread of this bug.

A friend living in Mosta found no less than 4 RPW's in her back yard, two she managed to kill, the other two flew off - 4 in one yard means a massive source nearby, likely being a dying palm tree rather pathetically partly covered in plastic sheeting, when it should have been uprooted and totally destroyed at the first signs.

MG
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